There is a "real consensus" in Congress that sanctions against Russia should be intensified, not diminished as Trump's transition team may have been trying to signal, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Friday.
"That was the trend the Obama administration was following, however haphazardly, and many of us criticized the lack of more intense sanctions until the Obama administration," the New York Democrat told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.
The "apparent effort" on the part of the transition team was a "dismaying process," Blumenthal continued, calling for a bipartisan effort to increase sanctions through legislation.
"We have a bill and I hope it will continue," Blumenthal said.
Meanwhile, the most striking thing escalating stories about connections between key members of Trump's team, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or senior adviser Jared Kushner was the "concealment afterward," said Blumenthal.
"They had not only these secret discussions before Donald Trump took office, but afterwards, and concealed them and lied about them in clearance forms," Blumenthal said. "We need to know exactly what was discussed."
Blumenthal said he has advocated that Sessions be brought back before the Senate Judiciary Committee and that Kushner "come clean, in effect, and talk about what was discussed in those secret meetings."
Further, Blumenthal said that perhaps Kushner's security clearance should be reviewed and his security briefings suspended.
Blumenthal said his "strong guess or suspicion" is that there were discussions between members of Trump's transition team and Russians that encouraged Russia "to think that the sanctions, in fact, would be abdicated once President Trump came into power."
This undermined former President Barack Obama's policy of "being tough with the Russians," Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal also said Democrats have two main questions for former FBI Director James Comey when he comes to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week, including whether the president demanded a pledge of loyalty and if he asked that the Flynn investigation be shut down.
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